Sports would be far less compelling if everyone was a good guy. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as each game is peppered with trash-talkers, jerks and out-of-control cheap-shot artists with a nose for trouble. As “Suicide Squad” and its band of supervillains hits theaters, we decided to take a look back at sports’ most detested characters. Here they are.
LeBron James post-'Decision'
James has redeemed himself in spectacular fashion, but only six years ago he was the NBA’s Public Enemy No. 1 outside of Miami after the “Decision” debacle and that “not one, not two, not three …” press conference after Pat Riley assembled the James-Wade-Bosh superteam. As James took his talents to South Beach, Cavs fans burned their jerseys and owner Dan Gilbert penned a furious and hysterical letter (in comic-sans!) decrying LeBron’s “cowardly betrayal.” It was not a pleasant stretch for King James.
Luis Suarez (soccer)
The talented Uruguayan striker has been involved in numerous incidents over his career, most notably the three times he bit opposing players Otman Bakkal, Branislav Ivanovic and most recently Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, which inspired a flood of memes mocking the possible cannibal/vampire. Suarez has admitted to diving and has collected way too many yellow cards. In addition, the FA also determined that he was guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a 2011 match, and later refused to shake Evra’s hand in 2012.
Getty ImagesMatthias Hangst
Kurt Busch (stock car racing)
Busch has cleaned up his on-track act somewhat (the 2014 domestic violence allegations at Dover are another story, though one that colors his villainous presence), but his record still contains an incredibly long list of foul-mouthed outbursts, wrecks, threats against reporters and temper tantrums. One of the most explosive cases occurred at the 2007 NEXTEL All-Star Challenge in which he and his own brother Kyle feuded, made contact and ultimately wrecked each other, leading to a six-month-long rift.
Getty ImagesRobert Laberge
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (boxing)
He’s flamboyant, self-centered and money-obsessed. Worst of all, dating back to 2002, he has been charged with and convicted on multiple counts of battery, including against women. As for his work between the ropes, finally in 2015 after delaying the much-desired fight for years, millions of people ponied up $100 to watch Manny Pacquiao punch his face in -- but the boxing technician was simply too skilled for Pacquiao to bloody.
AFP/Getty ImagesJOHN GURZINSKI
Christian Laettner (basketball)
For starters, the title of the ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about the former Duke Blue Devil is “I Hate Christian Laettner.” He’s one of college basketball’s all-time greats and perhaps also the most hated -- for his cockiness, for being a Duke preppy boy, for stomping on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake, for taunting opponents, for bullying his own teammate Bobby Hurley and for being really damn good.
Amy SancettaAmy Sancetta
Ty Cobb (baseball)
In a 2015 biography, author Charles Leerhsen worked to separate fact from legend about the reputed “sadistic, slashing, swashbuckling despot” Ty Cobb. The book was still titled “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.” Cobb may not have been a racist, but he was a pretty mean individual. Per the New York Times: “Cobb once beat up a teammate, the pitcher Ed Siever, continuing to punch him after he was probably already unconscious and then kicking him in the face. He went into the stands and severely assaulted a heckler who was missing seven fingers, having lost them in a workplace accident, even as surrounding spectators yelled, ‘He has no hands!”’ Not a good guy.
Getty ImagesTranscendental Graphics
The Evil Empire (baseball)
How times have changed for the New York Yankees -- now trade-deadline sellers who can’t quite “buy championships” anymore, as fans of every other team alleged the Bronx Bombers did with a monster payroll during their reign from 1996 to 2000 and beyond. Aside from winning too much and earning robust sums of money, it was the players the late owner George Steinbrenner acquired, foremost the intensely disliked Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez.
Bill Laimbeer (basketball)
If the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” center played today as he did in the '80s and '90s, he’d probably be suspended until 2062. Laimbeer didn’t just commit hard fouls, he picked fights and threw real punches as in the infamous 1990 “original Malice at the Palace” when he brawled with the 76ers’ Rick Mahorn and Charles Barkley. The most hated man in the NBA battled with the Bulls, had the cojones to get into a shoving match with Charles Oakley, and managed to inspire Celtics big man Robert Parish into clobbering him three times (resulting in a one-game suspension) in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals after taking down Larry Bird earlier in the series. There is actually a video game (SNES) that exists called “Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball.”
NBAE/Getty ImagesRocky Widner
Art Modell (football)
The longtime Cleveland Browns owner (1961-1995) promised to never move the team. Claiming that he was losing money and unhappy that he wasn’t getting the funding he wanted for a new stadium, he broke that promise. And he did it after surreptitiously arranging to move the team to Baltimore, before Cleveland indeed voted in favor of a measure to renovate Municipal Stadium. The move ripped the hearts out of Browns fans and Modell never once returned to the city, which was probably a smart personal safety decision.
Getty ImagesGeorge Gojkovich
Claude Lemieux (hockey)
Detested by fans and opponents alike, the dirty right winger was accused of biting an opponent’s hand, drinking from an opposing goalie’s water bottle, faking injuries, taking dives and more. Obviously worst of all is that horrible shot he took on Detroit’s Kris Draper in the 1996 Western Conference Finals, checking him from behind, sending him face-first into the boards. The shot broke Draper’s jaw and nose, and opened a gash that required 40 stitches in his cheek. Lemieux was suspended for only two games but the fiery Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry lasted far longer, and Red Wings fans do not forget.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (football)
The Patriots unite the rest of the league in hatred (and perhaps some latent jealousy -- another bad emotion) over: rule-bending, rule-breaking, the hooded Darth Belichick’s demeanor, “pretty boy” Tom Brady constantly calling for flags and often getting them, the “Tuck Rule,” Deflategate, Spygate, illegal pick plays, and so on and so on. When Brady is back from suspension in Week 5, it will be game back on in full force.